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Biographies: Guns N' Roses

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Reviewer: Iluvthe80s

Guns N' Roses released their first EP in 1986, which led to a contract with Geffen; the following year, the band released their debut album, "Appetite For Destruction". They started to build a following with their numerous live shows, but the album didn't start selling until almost a year later, when MTV started playing "Sweet Child O' Mine". Soon, both the album and single shot to number one, and Guns N' Roses became one of the biggest bands in the world. Their debut single, "Welcome To The Jungle", was re-released and shot into the Top Ten, and "Paradise City" followed in it's footsteps. By the end of 1988, they released "G N' R Lies", which paired four new, acoustic-based songs ( including the Top Five hit "Patience") with their first EP. "G N' R Lies" inflammatory closer "One In A Million" sparked intense controvery, as Axl Rose slipped into misogyny, bigotry, and pure violence; essentially, he somehow managed to distill every form of prejudice and hatred into one five-minute tune.

Guns N' Roses began work on the long-awaited follow-up to Appetite at the end of 1990. In October of that year, the band fired Adler, claiming that his drug dependency caused him to play poorly; he was replaced by Matt Sorum from The Cult. During recording, the band added Dizzy Reed on keyboards. By the time the sessions were finished, the new album had become two new albums. After being delayed for nearly a year, the albums, "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II", were released in September of 1991. Messy but fascinating, the Illusions showcased a more ambitious band; while there still a fair number of full-throtle guitar rockers, there were stabs at Elton John-style balladry, acoustic blues, horn sections, female backup singers, ten-minute art rock epics with several different sections, and a good number of introspective, soul-searching lyrics. In short, they were now making art; amazingly, they were successful at it. The albums sold very well initially, but while they had seemed destined to set the pace for the decade to come, that turned out not to be the case at all. Nirvana's "Nevermind" hit number one in early 1992, suddenly making Guns N' Roses -with all of their pretensions, impressionistic videos, models, and rock star excesses--seem very uncool. Rose handled the change by becoming a dictator, or at least a petty tyrant; his in-concert temper tantrums became legendary, even going so far as to incite a riot in Toronto. Stradlin left by the end of 1991, and with departure the band lost their best songwriter; he was replaced by ex-Kill For Thrills guitarist Gilby Clarke. The band didn't fully grasp the shift in hard rock until 1993, when they released an album of punk covers, "The Spaghetti Incident?"; it received some good reviews, but the band failed to capture the reckless spirit of not only the original versions, but their own "Appetite For Destruction".

By the middle of 1994, there were rumors flying that the band was about to break up, since Rose wanted to pursue a new, more industrial direction, and Slash wanted to stick with their blues-inflected hard rock. The band remained in limbo for several more years, and Slash resurfaced in 1995 with the side project Slash's Snakepit and amn LP, "It's Five O' Clock Somewhere". Rose remained out of the spotlight, becoming a virtual recluse and doing nothing but tinkering in the studio; he also recruted various musicians-including Dave Navarro, Tommy Stinson, and ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck-for informal jam sessions. By 1996, Slash was officially out of Guns N' Roses, leaving Rose the lone remaining survivor from the group's heyday; rumors continued to swirl, and still no new material was forthcoming, though Rose did re-record "Appetite For Destruction" with a new lineup for rehersal purposes. The first new original G N' R song in eight years, the industrial metal sludge of "Oh My God" finally appeared on the soundtrack to the 1999 Arnold Schwarzenegger film "End Of Days". Soon after, Geffen issued the two-disc "Live Era '87-'93". 2000 brought the addition of guitarist Robin Finck (of Nine Inch Nails) and Buckethead.

~Stephen Thomas Erlewine
All Music Guide

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